CHESHIRE — OK, the boys from the backyard did not reach the state high school football finals this season. There is, however, consolation. A few of the championship games will actually be played in the backyard.
The CIAC on Monday unveiled sites and times for Saturday’s four title tilts. Like last year, two of them will play at New Britain’s Veteran Stadium: Masuk vs. Daniel Hand in the Class L final at 11 a.m. followed by Killingly vs. Joel Barlow in Class M at 3.
West Haven’s Ken Strong Stadium, a regular on the championship docket, hosts the highly anticipated Class S final between high-flying St. Joseph and ground-and-pound Ansonia.
The Class LL final is the one game off the Central CT grid. Greenwich and Darien will stay in Fairfield County and square off at Boyle Stadium.
Every game save for the 3 p.m. nightcap at Veterans start at 11 a.m. By day’s end, we’ll have at least two new state champions (Class L and M).
Defending champs are in the hunt in the other two divisions. Darien is chasing its third straight title in Class LL. Ansonia looks to repeat in Class S and extend its record number of CIAC football titles to 21.
Should Ansonia get past St. Joseph, itself a 12-time state champ, the Chargers will land their seventh state crown under head coach Tom Brockett of Wallingford. Brockett, at 148-10 for a head coaching career that dates back to 2006, has the highest winning percentage (.936) in Connecticut football history, just ahead of Joe Orsene (.918), 50-4-1 orchestrator of Southington’s 1960s dynasty.
There is also a local connection in the Class L final. Daniel Hand quarterback Phoenix Billings is the grandson of Meriden’s Bob Billings.
The younger Billings, only a sophomore, had a big game Sunday in the semifinals against Windsor. He threw for two touchdowns and rushed 55 yards for a third in a 31-6 throttling.
On Saturday, Billings will attempt to lead the Tigers to their first state title since 2012. They’ll have to get past a Masuk team that flattened four-time defending Class L champ New Canaan 28-14 in a Sunday semi that stood at 28-0 until the final five minutes.
Class L, pitting a pair of 11-1 finalists, is the only division in which there’s no chance the champion will finish undefeated. It’s also the only class in which the No. 1 seed has been chased from the field (Middletown fell in the quarterfinals to New Canaan).
In the other classes, the No. 1’s are alive and well and 12-0: Greenwich, Killingly and Ansonia.
Killingly, playing in its first state final since 1996, is led by running back Spencer Lockwood, who in Sunday’s 49-7 win over Berlin went over 3,000 yards on the season. Only five other running backs have eclipsed that mark in Connecticut history. The most recent was Sheehan’s Zach Davis, who hit for 3,588 yards a year ago before moving on to Fordham.
Another 3,000-yard rusher was Ansonia’s Montrell Dobbs. He ran for 3,445 in 2010. Seven years later, his younger brother, Markell, has the Chargers on the brink of Title No. 21.
Meanwhile, up in New Britain, Joel Barlow will be playing for its first. Come Saturday, all points of the spectrum will be in play.